Schoenstatt's Founder was a priest, Father Joseph Kentenich. He was born on 18th November, 1885 in Gymnich near Cologne and died
83 years later on 15th September, the Feast of our Lady of Sorrows. His charism is Marian: our Lady as the educator and Mother
of a new person, who is free, apostolic and deeply rooted in Jesus Christ. When our times call out for deepened spirituality,
community and orientation, they seem to reflect the prodigal son, who longs to return to the house of the merciful
Father. Father Kentenich's life and work centred in forming the new person in the new community, who can take upon
himself in freedom the so needed return. He experienced that to love Mary is to win Christ, the Life of the world. When Joseph
Kentenich was only nine, he consecrated himself to her and during his studies of theology as a seminarian, he found the answers
to his many conflicting questions and doubts in the person of the Mother of God. It was with Mary, that he made a Covenant
of Love along with his young pupils in the little chapel of Schoenstatt, asking her to claim that spot for herself and her
During the Nazi-regime in Germany he found his greatest strength and
lasting orientation by trusting in her motherly care and protection. Mary was with him, when he was interrogated by the Gestapo
for his treason against the Nazi State; she was with him when he decided freely - in trying to realize God's Will
- to go to the concentration camp of Dachau, and Mary never left his side during the 3 1/2 years of imprisonment and suffering.
After the libertion of Dachau by the Allies, Father Kentenich continued
his work in building his Schoenstatt Family all over the world. With a Vatican diplomatic passport he travelled to South Africa,
United States of America and Latin America. During this time, Schoenstatt was examined by the Church authorities - an examination
which Father Kentenich had hoped for. The Visitation was a great success. However various critical comments were made which
Fr. Kentenich found essential and could not ignore. In Bellavista, Chile, he wrote a letter as an answer to the report of
the Visitation. During the night of 31st May, 1949, he laid the letter on the altar of our Lady's Shrine. This letter was
the beginning of his exile. The letter of 31st May was received by the German bishops with great criticism. So much so that
Fr. Kentenich was removed from his foundation and sent to Milwaukee, USA. He remained there for 14 years until his rehabilitation
by Pope Paul Vl in a special audience.
At the height of this conflict, he expressed the wish - as it was
in fact later fulfilled - to have the words Dilexit Ecclesiam - he loved the Church - written on his tomb. The 14
years in Milwaukee, separated from his life's work, were sufficient proof of his love.
In the three years left to him at the end of his exile in 1965, he
dedicated his time and energy to the consolidation of Schoenstatt world-wide. His never ending message is the reality of the
Covenant of Love with the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt, so that people today and tomorrow may
believe. The process for his beatification was opened on 10th February, 1975.